Mark Beauchamp, European marketing manager for Citizen Systems Europe, highlights the need for resellers to keep sight of their environmental responsibilities in the recession, and explains how a green approach can strengthen a business when times are tough.
The financial crisis has had a pretty devastating effect on the relationship between business and the environment. In many ways, this is to be expected. When a company is struggling to survive, its first thought is unlikely to be whether or not its stationery is FSC certified. However, while profit margins now take priority, we cannot afford to ignore our environmental responsibilities if we are to move forward in sustainable way. This is the time when we should be thinking long term, and a long-term approach is most definitely a green one.
Unlike consumers, who typically see the economic benefits of a greener lifestyle, many businesses view their environmental responsibilities as a big expense; one which, quite frankly, they could do without at the moment. In reality, choosing the greener option can be cost saving for businesses too. Energy saving in particular is a win/win situation, helping reduce overheads and minimise the consumption of limited natural resources.
For resellers, offering an energy saving product can be a great way to help customers meet their cost-saving needs, while also adding value with a green product. At Citizen, weve been committed to reducing the energy consumption of our printers, including the manufacturing process, and our latest models are our most efficient yet. This is because we understand that the relationship between economics and ethics is not mutually exclusive.
The reduction of waste is similar in its ability to reduce both costs and environmental impact. The reduce, re-use, recycle approach to waste continues to be good advice for manufacturers and end users alike. Printers that use less materials, a greater percentage of re-useable or recyclable components, and are compatible with recyclable media, are better for the balance sheet and the planet.
With introduction of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive, resellers are increasingly involved in the logistics of returning IT products back to the manufacturer once their service life has come to an end. It makes good business sense to work with a supplier that can keep things simple and minimise costs, with established recycling processes in place and a commitment to ensuring the regulations are met. For retailers, the knowledge that their reseller can be trusted to manage the returns process efficiently is vital, helping them keep down costs and minimise the headache of complying with WEEE.
Less can be more
The philosophy of reducing materials can be applied to supplying integrated IT solutions that solve a number of problems for the end user, so ultimately less machines can be made to do more. A higher specification but more expensive printer can offer end users a range of benefits, including savings in energy, space and, in the long term, cost. For instance, Citizen printers are designed to handle a wide range of media types and sizes, allowing a single printer to be used for a number of functions that might have previously required multiple units. By promoting the benefits of these kinds of integrated systems, resellers can increase their profits and help their customers reduce their environmental impact.
Resellers can also improve their environmental credentials and cut costs by streamlining their own internal processes. Green measures that can also reduce overheads include minimising travel and instead making use of digital conferencing systems. Its never been easier to communicate remotely, and this can not only cut your carbon footprint dramatically, but also save a valuable amount of time and money travelling. Sometimes there is no substitute for meeting a client or supplier face-to-face, but often the job can be done much more quickly and efficiently from the comfort of ones own office.
Similarly, resellers can maximise the use of their website by making brochures, data sheets and other information available to download. This reduces their paper consumption dramatically and allows prospects and clients to view information immediately without having to wait for it to arrive in the post. At Citizen, weve been uploading electronic versions of our sales and support materials onto our website for some time. In fact, we recently changed the layout of our brochures to landscape A4 format so that they are more easily viewed on-screen as a PDF document and the feedback has been unanimously positive.
Perhaps the most important thing when trying to think green and economical is to know who youre working with. It is vital that you can trust your suppliers, and in turn ask your customers to trust you to provide them with the most cost effective, and sustainable, solution to their needs. Simply choosing the supplier that offers the lowest price, while sometimes tempting, makes it extremely difficult to carry out your business in a way that will continue to benefit you and your customers long into the future, when the credit crunch is but a distant memory.